Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughts on Middle Earth...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Sew Random

Once more, nothing to do with sewing...

Since I admitted to seeing The Hobbit last night,  I thought I'd have a little literary discussion and post my reaction.  (disclaimer:  I do not pretend to be a high-falutin' movie critic.  This is not intended to be any kind of formal review.  Just my thoughts. YMMV.)

I am a huge Tolkien fan; I think I've read the Middle Earth saga through every other year since I graduated from high school.  Which was a pretty long time ago, so I've read them a LOT.   My reaction to the LOTR movies lost momentum as the series progressed; I was pleasantly surprised by Fellowship, understanding the need to consolidate characters/events to get the movie to a manageable size.  I was disappointed in Towers, because the editing began to include the characters themselves...their motivations and attitudes were different than what Tolkien wrote.  Whole scenes were created, drama inserted, where they did not exist.  Now it was not a matter of consolidating an epic book into a movie; it became a question of the director's version of the story over the author's.  The trend not only continued but increased through Return of the King; in many places the characters were scarcely recognizable as Tolkien's. I left that movie have had such a great opportunity to tell Tolkien's story and then not tell it seemed beyond wasteful to me.

So it was with some trepidation that I went to see The Hobbit.  I couldn't miss it; you understand.  But I was afraid I would be disappointed; that I would not see Tolkien's story but someone's interpretation of how Tolkien should've told his story. 

By and large, though, it was ok.  New Zealand absolutely matches my mental pictures of Middle Earth, and it was delightful to look at the scenery.  Bilbo was supposed to be 50 when he left on his adventure, and he looked it (although his birthday-party characterization in the beginning, the Bilbo of the opening of The Fellowship, hardly warrants Gandalf's remark that 'You haven't aged a day.'). Frodo was still too young, (he was supposed to be 33 when Bilbo disappears) but the dwarves...with the exception of Thorin...and Balin...all seemed right.  Thorin is much too young and good looking...and much too likeable.  The exceedingly proud Thorin of Tolkien's world would NEVER have embraced Bilbo.  It will make the ultimate ending even more tragic, I'm afraid.  Balin, IMHO,  is a bit too elderly and scholarly.  If he were not to be the Dwarf that leads the next attempt to reclaim Moria, beside whose tomb the Fellowship will first encounter the orcs there-in, he would be fine, but...I'm not seeing in his character the fire that would fuel such an endeavor.   He is an entirely wise and likeable fellow; just not quite as I envisioned him.

The only other comment I would have is that the whole lot of them are extremely sturdy, Bilbo included.  There's an awfully lot of serious falling and knocking about that seems to do nothing more than shake them up a bit.  Stretches the believability  just a hair that anyone...even a stocky son of earth dwarf...could endure such without breaking a bone here or there....

The subplot about the council w/Galadriel et al  and the dealings w/the Necromancer is actually alluded to in The Hobbit; Gandalf's affairs about which he tells the dwarves next to nothing.  I am not surprised that it would be expanded in the movie; the timeline appendix in The Return of the King has obviously been studied, even if it has been somewhat amended.

All in all, it's definitely worth seeing and I wouldn't mind going again while it's still on big screens.  And it's kind of fun to speculate where the breaks in the movies will come...I expected the first one to end w/the party catching their breath w/ Beorn; didn't miss that by much.    I'm guessing the next movie will end with the death of Smaug, leaving the third movie to begin with the battle at Dol Gildur so that Gandalf is finished with that business and the narrative can follow him back to the Elvish camp in time to see Bilbo arrive with his solution to the stalemate.  We shall see.

Which brings me back around to...if we could stretch The Hobbit into three movies, could we not have taken time to tell The Lord of the Rings trilogy properly?  Sigh....

Hopefully I will sew something one of these days and talk about THAT for a change... ;-)


  1. Your comments re: LOTR are fair enough, though I'll admit that I enjoyed it anyway. And I'm looking forward to The Hobbit even more, having just read your commentary. But as for your last question - if LOTR hadn't done so well at the box office, there would have been no Hobbit for a single movie, let alone three. And had The Hobbit come first and done as well, then maybe they would have been granted more time for LOTR....kind of a catch-22.

    1. Oh, yeah, I keep forgetting that it's all about the bottom line...and I did like the LOTR movies somewhat; I was just disappointed because I thought the movies could've been done truer to Tolkien. Overall, it wasn't the consolidation that I had trouble with, it was the changing. But I read one comment on another blog that was disappointed in the characterization of Bilbo, and I didn't find him too far off the mark, so, you know, it's all just opinion anyway... hope you enjoy the movie too!

    2. We just went to see the movie today - loved it! It's been far too long since I read The Hobbit (think it was when Thing 1 was a baby, so at least 7-8 years ago), so this is prompting me to go to the library and check it out to reread this week.

  2. Interesting review. I'm holding off on the Hobbit for now but I'm sure I'll see it more than once. I agree with everything you said about the LotR movies. I wish there was a way to turn the LotR movies into karaoke--save Middle Earth (gorgeous) and all the great props and costumes and definitely the music, but strip out all the actors and dialog imagine something more authentic. Maybe keep Boromir. :P

  3. Sssshhhhhhh!!!! Don't tell me anymore! It hasn't been released Down Under yet - a few more days to wait...then I will go back and reread your post and we can compare views from one side of the globe to the other....J

    1. Ack! I thought it was released world-wide. But...I don't think I've got any spoilers there (not that anyone would be surprised by the story line anyway).... ;-)